3 Must-Haves In Your Diet To Help Lower Cholesterol

The word ‘cholesterol’ seems to have a negative connotation as most people believe it to be the body’s enemy. 

In most pathological cases, this is quite true. On the flip side, cholesterol is essential for the body. 

It’s a fat-like substance that is needed by every cell. Along with helping indigestion, it’s also used to make vitamin D and some hormones. 

However, high cholesterol can lead to severe cardiac diseases. So the better way to deal with this lipoprotein is to keep its level maintained and balanced throughout your life.

In this guide, we’ll discuss how to lower cholesterol by making some changes in your diet. If you’re thinking about lowering cholesterol naturally, you’ll have to stock up on some specific ingredients in your kitchen.

Cholesterol in Your Body

Cholesterol constitutes 50% lipid and 50% protein, and that’s why it is known as a lipoprotein. It is an essential fatty component that affects several important metabolic functions of your body.

Your body makes its own cholesterol in the liver. Moreover, you can intake cholesterol through dairy, meat, and eggs. 

Some people believe that dietary cholesterol increases total cholesterol levels. However, this isn’t exactly true, as the liver slows down cholesterol production when you’re eating more cholesterol-rich foods. 

However, cholesterol levels can spike if you’re ingesting excessive amounts of sugars, trans, and saturated fats. 

But before you get alarmed by this information, keep in mind that there are different kinds of cholesterol. 

High-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) is good for your health. On the other hand, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or LDL, is harmful to the body as it increases the risk of stroke and cardiac diseases. 

When oxidized, LDL can stick to the arterial walls, forming plaques, clogging the vessels, and restricting blood circulation (atherosclerosis). 

As a result, there’s more pressure on the heart, leading to severe complications, such as:

  • Chest pain or Angina
  • Heart attack 
  • Heart stroke

Commonly, you may know HDL as ‘good cholesterol’ and LDL as ‘bad cholesterol’.

What Causes Cholesterol Level to Get High?

You don’t have to worry about your body’s cholesterol level until it gets higher or lower than usual. That’s when your body becomes more prone to health risks and diseases. 

Here are some factors which can increase your risk of high cholesterol.

  • Unhealthy diet. Healthy eating is the most natural way of treating or preventing any potential health risk. 

Several snacks and meals can raise your cholesterol levels, such as saturated fat of animal products (red meat, full-fat dairy products) and trans fats of bakery items (cookies, crackers, microwave). 

  • Obesity. A BMI of 30 or more can put you at a greater risk of high cholesterol.
  • Age. As you age, your body goes through several changes now and then. Your liver also becomes less effective against LDL cholesterol, leading you towards high cholesterol levels.
  • Less Physical Activities. Regular exercises boost the HDL cholesterol level of your body and increase the size of your LDL cholesterol particles, making them less harmful. 
  • Diabetes. The higher the blood sugar, the greater the cholesterol level will be. A high sugar level in the blood increases the production of very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) and lowers HDL cholesterol.
  • Smoking. Smoking is considered the enemy of your blood vessels. Excessive or continuous smoking can damage the walls of your vessels, allowing the formation of plaque. 

Besides, smoking can also lower your HDL cholesterol level. 

How to Lower Cholesterol Quickly: 3 Must-Have Foods In Your Diet

It’s likely that you already have some of the below-mentioned ingredients in your pantry, or you may not be a huge fan of these foods. In any case, it’s important to incorporate them into your diet to lower cholesterol levels naturally. 

Everyone acknowledges the effectiveness of healthy eating in suppressing or avoiding any risky health condition. So why not start today?

The good thing is that all these foods have additional benefits for your body. They are not just good for your cardiac health but also help prevent the risk of stroke.

Nuts

Nuts are rich in monounsaturated fats. Since they have a high nutrition count, they benefit the body in multiple ways. 

For example, walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids, improving heart health and reducing the risks of multiple diseases. 

On the other hand, almonds have a high concentration of L-arginine. It’s an amino acid that the body uses to make nitric oxide, which further helps in regulating normal blood pressure.

Another benefit of nuts is that they contain phytosterols. As their name hints, these compounds are somewhat similar to cholesterol in terms of structure. Therefore, they lower cholesterol absorption in the intestines by blocking it. 

Most importantly, nuts are a rich source of minerals, such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium. These minerals are known to reduce the risk of hypertension and heart diseases. 

A study showed that consuming 67 g of nuts daily reduces LDL cholesterol in the body. 

Moreover, eating nuts daily is linked to a 19% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 21% lower risk of coronary artery disease.

Fruits and Veggies

As a rule of thumb, we all know that fruits and vegetables translate to healthy eating and lesser diseases. However, fruits and greens are also important in terms of lowering LDL cholesterol levels. 

Studies report that adults who take four servings of greens or fruits daily have lower LDL cholesterol than someone who eats less than two servings in a day. 

Along with lowering LDL cholesterol levels, fruits and vegetables also reduce the oxidative stress caused by excessive cholesterol. 

In doing so, they prevent the fatty molecule from making plaques in the arterial circulation. 

Another study also shows that people who eat veggies and fruits have a lesser likelihood of developing heart ailments in 10 years. 

The combined effect results in a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Fatty Fish

When you searched for ‘how to lower cholesterol naturally, you surely didn’t expect to see fats on the list. However, remember how we discussed the types of cholesterol earlier in this article. 

Fatty fish, including mackerel and salmon, contain omega-3 fatty acids. These fats boost HDL cholesterol levels – the good type – to reduce inflammation and the risk of cardiac arrest. 

A European Journal of Nutrition study showed that people who consume non-fried fish are at a lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome. Likewise, another study showed that older adults who ate broiled fish, such as tuna, at least once every week had a lower stroke risk. 

So when making fish, make sure that you cook it healthily. The best way to consume fish is to stew or steam it. 

Avoid fried fish as it increases the risk of stroke and other heart disorders.

Snacks for Lowering Cholesterol

While fish and nuts are great for heart health, they may not be your favorite snacks. But you can’t say no to chocolate, can you? 

As surprising as it may sound, dark chocolate can lower LDL cholesterol levels. A study confirmed this by giving cocoa beverages to healthy adults twice a day for 30 days. 

The results showed a decrease in the bad cholesterol levels by 0.17mmol/l. The researchers also saw an improvement in blood pressure levels and an increase in good cholesterol levels. 

It seems as if dark chocolate prevents LDL cholesterol from getting oxidized in the bloodstream. Since LDL oxidation is a major cause of heart illnesses, it’s clear that dark chocolate may be good for cardiac health. 

However, keep in mind that chocolates often have high sugar levels – a no-no for heart health. Therefore, you should only consume chocolate or cocoa drinks that have low sugar content.

Another snack that might be already present in your kitchen cabinet is roasted chickpeas. You may know them as garbanzo beans.

This yummy protein and fiber-packed legumes become even more mouthwatering when you roast them. Just spread the chickpeas on parchment paper, add some olive oil and a pinch of salt, and roast them for about 30 minutes till they get crispy.

Apart from their taste, chickpeas have been significantly proven to reduce cholesterol levels in the human body. 

In a study, people who ate 728 grams of chickpeas per week observed a lower total cholesterol level at the end of the experiment.

How to Prevent Having High Cholesterol?

The same healthy eating rule that is the answer to your ‘How to lower cholesterol?’ can also help you prevent it entirely in the first place. 

Wondering how? Try implementing these valuable things in your life to avoid all the risks of having high cholesterol.

  • Cut down the intake of salt and increase eating fruits, vegetables, and nuts
  • Eat a low-fat diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight and get rid of extra fats
  • Don’t smoke excessively if you can’t quit it entirely
  • Include a workout session in your daily schedule
  • Consume alcohol moderately

Conclusion

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every 36 seconds, a person dies in the US from cardiovascular disease. Even worse, every one in four deaths annually is due to heart diseases. 

Considering that, you can see how prevalent heart ailments are in the US. 

An excellent way to prevent yourself from any heart illness is to reduce the cholesterol levels inside your body. 

In this guide, we answered how to lower cholesterol naturally. Follow it, and you’d be surprised at how much difference minor dietary changes can make to your overall health.

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